No car is perfect, but we've gathered everything relating to the Audi reliability here to help you decide if it's a smart buy.
When should the timing belt be replaced on a 2011 Audi A5?
What you haven’t told me, Luke, is whether your car has a petrol four-cylinder engine or a V6 turbo-diesel. In any case, the petrol engine fitted to this series of A5 Audis used a timing chain, so it should never need replacing as it’s designed to last the life of the engine itself. That, however, has not been the experience of every owner of these cars, and timing-chain failures have been a hot topic of discussion on these four-cylinder turbocharged engines.
The V6 turbo-diesel, however, does use a toothed rubber timing belt, and that, along with its tensioners, does need to be changed at regular intervals. The trade reckons that interval should be every 120,000km or every five years, whichever comes first. That’s because rubber deteriorates with time as well as kilometres. The other piece of advice is to change your water pump while you have that part of the engine pulled apart. It’s a lot cheaper to do both jobs in one go than to open the engine a second time to replace the water pump.
Should I buy extended warranty?
There’s good and bad news here, John. The transmission in the car you’re looking at is code-named DL501 and it’s a wet-clutch design. That’s distinct from some of the dry-clutch designs also used by the VW Group which were much more troublesome with a high rate of failures. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that even with its more durable wet-clutch design, the DL501 has also been known to suffer what appear to be inherent problems. Mainly, those relate to the mechatronic unit (more or less the transmission’s central nervous system) and premature wear in the clutch plates themselves.
The car you’re looking at has covered a very low distance, so it should be okay for now, but there’s no telling what dramas might crop up with years and kilometres. The problems will likely be worse if the car has not been serviced by the book, so check the service handbook for evidence of this. Even then, it’s a bit of a gamble.
But the only thing I’d stay further clear of than a DSG transmission would be an extended warranty from a car-yard. These are specifically written to exclude the things you’re most likely to need them for. Have a close look at the fine print and you might find that the sort of transmission problems you’d expect in this car will be specifically excluded.
What oil does a 2004 Audi A4 use in the engine?
I’d go for a fully synthetic engine oil with a viscosity rating of 5W-40. The turbocharged 1.8-litre engine in that model is a pretty hard-working unit and quite a complex engine, so frequent oil changes are critical to its longevity. The brand of oil is not so important, provided you use a quality brand and not the Brand-X stuff sold at supermarkets and some online clearing houses. Don’t forget to change the oil filter at the same time; putting clean, fresh oil through an old, dirty filter makes no sense at all.
RECALL: More than 10,000 Audi A3, A1 and TT cars have faulty dual-clutch automatic transmissions
Audi Australia has recalled 10,373 A3 small cars, A1 light hatches and TT sports cars over a production defect with their seven-speed S Tronic dual-clutch automatic transmissionsRead More
Audi A5 2016: Petrol or diesel?
Both the petrol and diesel versions of Audi’s V6 are high-performance units that will provide all the performance you’ll ever need. But for most people buying an A5, there’s really only one that’s the right engine for them and it has nothing to do with reliability.
The turbo-diesel V6 is only really happy if you’re regularly using it for longer journeys where the engine gets hot enough to regenerate its soot-filter. This isn’t an Audi-specific thing; it applies across the board to all modern, common-rail diesel engines with soot-filters. For most urban-dwelling Australians, the pattern of vehicle usage doesn’t include those critical long journeys at freeway speeds, and driving around the suburbs for 12 months without a regular gallop on the open road will almost guarantee problems with the diesel’s emissions control systems (including the soot-filter).
Which means that for the vast majority of A5 buyers, the petrol V6 is the only way to go. While you will be losing a little fuel economy over the diesel, the petrol V6 is actually a nicer engine to use and live with. It’s faster, smoother and definitely more refined. And you won’t smell like a semi-trailer every time you fill up.
RECALL: Airbags in some Audi Q7 SUVs might not inflate properly
Audi Australia has recalled five Q7 large SUVs over a potential issue with their curtain airbagsRead More
Audi A3 and A4 2010: Are they reliable?
Volkswagen is very quick to point out that the earlier transmission woes with its DSG gearbox have been fixed. Certainly, the later versions seem to be better, but the jury is still out on whether the fix has been a complete one.
In any case, that’s no use to you as the cars made around 2010 are, indeed, the ones that were most affected by these troublesome transmissions. The smaller Audi models were the main offenders as some of those used the dry-clutch version of the DSG. The larger (and heavier) A4 tended to have the wet-clutch version of the same gearbox which wasn’t nearly as problematic. So that should be your golden rule here if you decide to take the plunge: Only buy a second-hand Audi with a wet-clutch DSG. Even then, we can’t guarantee that it will be all sweetness and light, but at least you’re a chance to side-step major problems. Audi actually recalled many of its models to deal with these gearbox issues at the time.
The other thing to be sure of is that any used Audi you buy has a complete service history with no gaps or late services. These cars use high-tech engines that absolutely require clean oil and filters at regular intervals. A neglected Audi is a very good chance to be a pain in the wallet down the track. Like many second-hand prestige cars, these Audis are often cheap for a reason.
Should I buy an Audi A3 or A4?
It would pay to bear in mind, Tony that there’s an all-new A3 due in Europe next year (Check out Carsguide’s overage of the Geneva Motor Show when it happens) as well as a major upgrade of the A4 that will include new or comprehensively revised engines and mostly new body panels and interior.
Is the heavily discounted A4 a dealership demonstrator? As that might explain why the A4, even though it’s the bigger car, has had its price slashed, despite having all that desirable kit thrown in. That said, the A4 lives in a market segment (mid-sized sedans) that is not doing terribly well right now (in Australia and elsewhere) so maybe Audi has too much stock of a car that has plenty of competition (Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3-Series) in a struggling market.
The bottom line, however, is to buy as much car as you need and don’t make the mistake of buying a smaller, cheaper car when it won’t easily do the jobs you have in mind for it. Again, though, the A3 is a pretty practical hatchback (or sedan) and owners don’t seem to complain that it’s underdone in any major way.
So, drive them both, and see which one you like to pilot. And then start throwing offers at the salesman and see how much he or she is able to bend on either car. By the way, the virtual cockpit is brilliant technology.
What electric car should I buy?
We can understand your feelings about the centrally-mounted screen in the Tesla, though you do get used to it surprisingly quickly.
As for the other models you’ve mentioned, we’ve had to get the crystal ball out to attempt to answer you!
The Polestar 2 will be on sale by the end of 2020, if all goes to plan. The company will be pushing hard to make that happen.
The VW ID3 is likely not going to be here until 2021, likely the mid or latter part of that year. It certainly has a lot of potential, and with pricing set to start below $50,000, it could well be The People’s (Electric) Car.
There are other options coming, though it depends on your diary and your budget.
You could consider the Tesla Model S, which may have been around for a while, but that also means it has a more traceable reliability history. It has a digital instrument cluster in the regular spot as well.
Have you looked at the Jaguar i-Pace? It has a claimed range of 470 kilometres, though it is on the pricey side of the equation, starting from about $125,000.
Indeed, a high price tag is a common theme among those EVs with big battery capacity and expansive driving range, because you’re basically covering the cost of the batteries with your money.
For instance, there’s the Audi e-tron quattro, which is due here in early 2020. That model will have a range of “more than 400 kilometres”, and - we suspect - a price tag above $120,000.
If 2021 isn’t too long to wait, there’s the Volvo XC40 Recharge coming then. Based on our previous experience with Volvo XC40s, it’ll be a great small SUV, with predicted range of 400km - though we think that’s understating it, because it has a 78kWh battery pack, and it has AWD too.
At the more affordable end - though admittedly still not quite meeting your expectations for range - there’s the very impressive Hyundai Kona Electric, which has a WLTP range of 449km, and a price tag of around $65k. It isn’t all-wheel drive though.
The Mini Cooper SE will also arrive in mid-2020, with pricing set to be less than $60k. But again, a range of 270km will likely rule it out for your needs, and its 2WD as well.
Another new small EV due next year is the Mazda MX-30. Pricing is still to be confirmed, and range isn’t great at about 300km. It’s FWD too.
In short, at this point in time - and out towards the end of 2020 - it looks like you’ll either need to spend a big amount of money on a premium EV to get the best range possible, or you’ll have to get used to the Model 3’s screen. You could always get an aftermarket head-up display fitted…
Audi A5 2010: What is a good price to sell at?
Somewhere between $13,400 and $15,700 would be a guide, but it would depend on condition and service history.